Shaman, the dog that assists health care professionals and patients during consultations

Marine Chesnais, speech therapist in Giberville, her dog Shaman, and Lilou Brun, head of the Happy With Dogs association. © Maxence GORREGUES

This is the first of the agglomeration of Caen (Calvados), and its benefits can be seen from the first meetings. Since May 23, 2022, Marine Chesnais, speech therapist at Interactiveeast of Caen, now welcoming his patients with his dog, One. This 6-month-old Miniature American Shepherd has a well-defined role in professional treatment techniques.

From now on, volunteer patients will benefit from his help: “The interest of interaction with a trained dog is to speed up or expedite treatment”, explains Lilou Brun, a specialist in animal -assisted therapy. .

The dog speeds up the work of memory, naming, writing, because it is inspiring, appreciative and non -judgmental. The positive emotion felt by the patient promotes the success of the exercises in a climate of confidence.

Lilou Brown

The result of several months of work

This innovation is the result of many months of work and reflection with Lilou Brun, head of the Happy with dogs association. He is currently preparing a university degree in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Caen.

Gradually, in recent months, this has been the first Lulu, a well-trained and experienced dog, to make it possible to test the effects on patients. A first step that also makes it possible to confirm the speech therapist’s motivation.

Lilou Brun trained him, as she could with other health professionals, especially psychologists. “I quickly realized that the animal could create favorable working conditions with the patient, assured Marine Chesnais. Then I did not hesitate to continue the experiment and continue. Many sessions, both inside and outside the company, were conducted with support made.

Conditions that promote self -confidence

If activities involving animals to promote the well-being of participants, usually in the context of collective sessions, such as accommodation establishments for the dependent elderly (Ehpad) or medical-educational institutions (IME), become more common, they are much smaller. therefore in the therapeutic context. “If only through its presence, the animal could create favorable conditions to achieve the goal of treatment,” explains Lilou Brun. It allows us to achieve a goal we wouldn’t be able to achieve without it, or at least it serves as an accelerator. »

As part of her work as a speech therapist, Marine Chesnais aims to prevent, assess and treat difficulties or disorders of language, speech and writing. In children, as in adults. “And one-on-one with an adult speech therapist alone is not the same as a professional accompanied by a dog, added Lilou Brun. The spontaneity of exchanges can be seen more quickly, by to the simple fact that the dog quickly became the topic of discussion. ”Free to speak in the speech therapist’s office, it’s valuable …

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The well -being of the patient and… of the animal

The two women especially designed exercises involving the Shaman, based on the card game. The patient is asked to arrange them on a double-entry table, depending on the position of the animal in the image, and where it is. “Beyond the mental work we do with this exercise, the patient is invited to give instructions to the dog. Everything is more concrete. The exercise is more effective if, when the dog does, the patient’s self-confidence is increased. , especially in children.

This helps anchor patient success. Here again, we realize that the animal has created an environment suitable for therapeutic work.

Lilou Brown

The two women reminded us that the dog should not be imposed on anyone. The session in his presence was conducted on a voluntary basis. Also, animal welfare is at the heart of the project. “It all started with our desire, with my partner and our children, to have a dog. And there was no question of leaving him alone at home all day on weekdays. When I discovered animal -assisted therapy and what Happy With Dogs had to offer, I decided to leave it to Lilou Brun to select and train my future dog. »

An evolutionary support

Lilou Brun guarantees the dog’s well -being. “I give the keys to the masters I accompany so that they can easily recognize the animal’s signs of stress, and so that they can act accordingly. I also teach them to adopt proper behavior, on a physical level, vis -à-vis the dog if they are in their office. »

He personally selects the dogs that will qualify for this type of activity, from the breeders he has always worked with. He finds inside the litter, dogs confident in themselves, excited and therefore having a hard time moving forward in the context of a cabinet.

To be a good mediator dog, you need a good genetic background for moral balance and health, natural skills, very early education to orient a certain type of behavior, then specific training with coding so that the dog realizes the instructions on request. This is a remarkable alchemy, a long and painstaking work.

Lilou Brown

The health aspect is unavoidable. All animals were vaccinated, dewormed and professionally groomed every three months. They also received antiparasitic treatment. “I guarantee the puppy will recover if it fails. We work on living things, and so we can make mistakes, ”said Lilou Brun. He estimates that trained dogs are trained after 18 months, while they start earlier, as is the case with the Shaman. The experience feeds into his learning, and into the health care professional. Each day brings in part new observations and ideas, which are important for the trio, and for the therapists called upon to call an animal in the future.

Practice. Association Happy with dogs, tel. 06 37 49 61 49

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